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Travel agents fear shut-downs

business Updated: Oct 30, 2008 22:23 IST
Samiran Saha

More than 4,000 travel agents in the country are bracing for a life without commission payments from embattled airlines that are grappling with options to keep afloat in turbulent times. They fear shut-downs and job losses. Airlines across the world have chosen to bring down their costs by doing away with the commission that is paid to travel agents for sale of tickets.

The "no-commission regime" will come into force from November 1. As many as 14 Indian and foreign carriers have chosen not to pay commission to their travel agents.

Instead the agents have been asked to charge a “transaction fee” which would be different for every class. Agents could charge Rs 350 for economy class while the charges could be as high as Rs 5,000 per ticket for a first class ticket.

Industry sources said the move will save an estimated Rs 800 crore a year for the industry.

There are over 30,000 travel agents in India and about 3,000 of them are accredited to the International Air Travel Association.

“Only 15 per cent of airline ticketing in India is done over the counter or the Internet. For the remaining 85 per cent of tickets passengers go through the travel agents and if the commission is done away with, several agents will be forced to close shop,” said Harkripal Singh, chief representative of Travel Agents Association of India.

IATA Agents' Association of India (IAAI) has protested the move claiming that it would not only lead to high fares, but also massive unemployment.